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Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching Second Corinthians

, 1987
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Although Corinth was an ancient Greek city, it had been totally destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, and the site lay unused for about a hundred years. It was then rebuilt by Julius Caesar as a Roman city and became the seat of government of the Roman province of Achaia. Like most major cities of the ancient world it contained a considerable number of Jews. It was among these that Paul, in accordance with his normal practice, began his mission (Acts 18:4). Corinth is often described as an exceptionally licentious city, but most of the evidence for this relates to the earlier Greek city and not to the Roman. In Paul's day it was probably no worse or no better than any large cosmopolitan area. While some passages in First Corinthians refer to its sexual immorality, this is not an important factor in Second Corinthians. What Paul writes in this letter has little to do with immediate local and external circumstances but much with the internal life of the Christian community in Corinth.

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“God’s transcendent power enabled him to endure. Some people stubbornly refuse to give in to adversity; with stiff upper lip they endure whatever fate throws at them. We admire them. But that was not how Paul endured, for the source of his strength lay not within himself but in the grace of God. God’s power was made perfect in his weakness (12:9). That power is also always there with us to balance every outside circumstance and every interior thought that would bring us down. The promise is not that our troubles will pass away with time or that they only appear to be troubles or that a way out of them will eventually be found. The troubles are real and may never disappear, yet the power of God is there to bring us through them.” (Page 41)

“When Paul asked for a little more in the collection, he knew that what was at stake was not just some widow’s next dinner but the life of the whole church. For if the Christians in Corinth were unworried about the Christians in Jerusalem, it would not be long until there was no church in Corinth. There might be a group which continued to worship together, but it would have cut Christ out from itself.” (Page 81)

“When, then, Paul writes of his desire to depart and be with Christ, he is not denying that he is with Christ now but is using ‘with’ in a different way. To be ‘with Christ’ in this sense is to be ‘at home with’ him (v. 8). There is partial fellowship for Paul with Christ now, but there will be full fellowship when he dies. It is a case now of walking by faith; then he will have full sight.” (Page 47)

The Interpretation series from Westminster John Knox Press is clearly established as a rich source for teaching and preaching. They have tapped the talents of a varied and esteemed group of contributors, resulting in what is clearly the essential comprehensive commentary series on the Bible.

—W. Eugene March, A.B. Rhodes Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

The Interpretation series is an invaluable resource for any leader or scholar interested in interpreting the biblical text to the broader church. Its works are essential for pastors, educators, and church libraries.

—Brian K. Blount, President and Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary

  • Title: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching Second Corinthians
  • Author: Ernest Best
  • Publisher: John Knox Press
  • Publication Date: 1987
  • Pages: 142
Ernest Best

Ernest Best (1917–2004) was professor of divinity and biblical criticism at the University of Glasgow. Best first studied mathematics and then divinity at Queen’s University. After earning his Ph.D. in 1948, Best started ministering in Northern Ireland. He is the author of From Text to Sermon and A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Ephesians.


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  1. Ralph A. Abernethy III


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